News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 8, No. 9B • September 15, 2012
1. USCIS Updates FAQs on Deferred Action – The latest FAQ was updated on September 7, 2012.
2. Congress Extends Four Immigration Programs for Three Years – The extended programs include the EB-5 regional center program, the E-Verify program, the special immigrant religious worker program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 visa waiver program for certain foreign doctors working in medically underserved areas.
3. October Visa Bulletin Shows Backlogs in Some EB Categories – Several employment-based categories are now backlogged.
4. DV-2014 Lottery Program Begins on October 2; DV-2013 Entrants Should Keep Confirmation Numbers – Online registration for the DV-2014 Program will begin on October 2, 2012, at noon EDT, and will conclude on November 3, 2012, at noon EDT. The Department also said it may select more DV-2013 entries on October 1, 2012, and DV-2013 entrants should keep their confirmation numbers even if they have not been selected yet.
5. State Dept. Announces ‘Historic’ Visa Agreement Between United States and Russia – Among other benefits, the agreement provides for longer visa validity.
6. Federal District Court Upholds ‘Show Papers’ Provision of Arizona Immigration Law – Judge Susan Bolton said the law must take effect before it can be challenged, but she left the door open to potential future challenges.
7. SEVP Notes Driver’s License and Social Security Difficulties for Students – Some F and M students are having difficulties when applying for a Social Security number or driver’s license.
8. CBP Opens Global Entry Kiosks at San Antonio International Airport – The kiosk’s features include a camera, touch-screen monitor, fingerprint scanner, document reader, and receipt printer.
9. CBP Opens Two Additional Lanes at San Luis, Arizona Port of Entry – The 15-month expansion project increased the northbound lanes from 8 to 10 at one of the area’s most congested land ports of entry. These additional lanes may increase capacity by 25 percent for travelers entering the United States for work and personal reasons.
10. Democratic Party Platform Supports Comprehensive Immigration Reform – The platform touts existing Obama administration efforts, such as deferred action for childhood arrivals in lieu of the DREAM Act and supporting family reunification as a priority.
11. New Publications and Items of Interest – New Publications and Items of Interest
12. Member News – Member News
13. Government Agency Links – Government Agency Links
1. USCIS Updates FAQs on Deferred Action
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) several times on the new deferred action program for childhood arrivals. The latest version was updated on September 7, 2012.
The Department of Homeland Security has advised that its processing goals are one month from issuance of a receipt to the biometric appointment, and four to six months on average for processing the initial batch of deferred action requests. This time could increase as more requests are received.
USCIS said it plans to issue additional FAQs as people work through the process. The latest FAQ, along with other links to relevant information, is available HERE.
2. Congress Extends Four Immigration Programs for Three Years
Congress has extended four immigration programs for three years, to September 30, 2015. The programs are the EB-5 regional center program, the E-Verify program, the special immigrant religious worker program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 visa waiver program for certain foreign doctors working in medically underserved areas.
The Senate passed the extenders bill (S. 3245), as it was called, in early August. The House of Representatives passed the bill on September 13 by a vote of 412-3. The bill now goes to the President for signature.
Congress is unlikely to pass any other immigration bills before the November elections. According to one newspaper article, this session of Congress “is on track to be the least productive in modern history.” Major immigration reform will have to wait until 2013.
Newspaper Article about Congress’s Lack of Productivity
3. October Visa Bulletin Shows Backlogs in Some EB Categories
The Department of State had expected that the worldwide EB-2 visa numbers would become current once the new fiscal year began on October 1, 2012. However, this has not happened. Similarly, the EB-2 category for India and China, which became unavailable in June, has not budged much. China remains at July 15, 2007, and India advanced but only to September 1, 2004. Additional movement is not expected in this category for India and China for the first half of the new fiscal year.
The EB-3 worldwide, India, China, and Philippines categories are also backlogged. The EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 categories remain current for October.
4. DV-2014 Lottery Program Begins on October 2; DV-2013 Entrants Should Keep Confirmation Numbers
Online registration for the DV-2014 Program will begin on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at noon EDT, and will conclude on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at noon EDT. Instructions for the DV 2014 Program were not yet available as of September 15.
The Department of State also noted that DV-2013 entrants should keep their confirmation numbers until at least September 2013, even if they were not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department said it may select more DV-2013 entries on October 1, 2012. Entrants in the DV-2013 program may check the status of their entries through Entrant Status Check beginning on May 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.
Announcement and Related Details
5. State Dept. Announces ‘Historic’ Visa Agreement Between United States and Russia
The Department of State announced that a “historic” U.S.-Russia visa agreement entered into force on September 9, 2012. The agreement facilitates travel between the two countries and “enables us to strengthen ties between our people by benefitting the largest segments of travelers in both our countries – business travelers and tourists,” the Department said in a statement. Among other benefits, the agreement provides for longer visa validity.
Nearly 159,000 business and tourism visas were issued in fiscal year 2011 to Russian citizens. Over 75,000 U.S. citizens travel to Russia annually, the majority of whom require Russian visas.
The agreement includes these key provisions:
- Three-year, multiple-entry visas will be issued as the standard “default” visa for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States;
- Diplomatic and official visa holders on temporary assignments will receive one-year, multiple-entry visas;
- The documentation required will be reduced. For example, the Russian government will no longer require U.S. citizens to provide formal, “registered” invitation letters when applying for Russian business visas or visas for private visits, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator;
- Both sides have committed to keeping standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing; and
- The $100 issuance (reciprocity) fee for Russians issued U.S. visas for business or tourism (B-1/B-2) will decrease to $20.
6. Federal District Court Upholds ‘Show Papers’ Provision of Arizona Immigration Law
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton of Phoenix ruled on September 5, 2012, that the “show me your papers” provision of Arizona’s immigration law will stand, at least for now. That provision allows Arizona police officers to question immigration status while carrying out enforcement of other laws.
Judge Bolton said the law must take effect before it can be challenged, but she left the door open to potential future challenges.
Allesandra Soler, executive director of Arizona’s American Civil Liberties Union, predicted “rampant racial profiling and prolonged detention for countless Latinos, a majority of whom are U.S. citizens and permanent residents.” Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, said the ruling “will empower state and local law enforcement, as part of a legal stop or detention, to inquire about an individual’s immigration status when the officer has reasonable suspicion.”
Judge Bolton’s September 5 Opinion
7. SEVP Notes Driver’s License and Social Security Difficulties for Students
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) noted on September 6, 2012, that some F and M students are having difficulties when applying for a Social Security number (SSN) or driver’s license. SEVP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program are working on a solution that they expect to implement shortly.
Currently, there are two options for students:
1. Return to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Social Security Administration (SSA) office in the student’s state on or after September 14, 2012.
2. E-mail email@example.com, which may take longer than option one. Include the following in the e-mail:
- Benefit requested (SSN or driver’s license)
- Family name
- First name
- Date of birth
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, admission number (11 digits)
- SEVIS ID
- Applicant’s physical address (required), phone number (required), and e-mail
- Address of the office where problem occurred (and the name of the official, if known)
- Date of the latest visit to office
- SAVE case number (if available)
- Current driver’s license/customer number and/or DMV receipt number (for DMV customers, if available)
While SEVP does not process benefits, SEVP says a representative will contact SSA or the student’s state DMV on the student’s behalf to help with processing.
The student may also contact the SEVP Response Center with further questions at either 703-603-3400 or SEVP@ice.dhs.gov.
8. CBP Opens Global Entry Kiosks at San Antonio International Airport
U.S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled Global Entry kiosks at the international arrivals area of the San Antonio International Airport on August 29, 2012.
International travelers enrolled in Global Entry who are returning to the United States through the San Antonio airport can bypass passport control lines to use CBP’s automated self-service kiosk. The kiosk features include a camera, touch-screen monitor, fingerprint scanner, document reader, and receipt printer. At the kiosk, Global Entry members activate the system by inserting their passports or U.S. permanent resident cards into a document reader. The kiosk directs travelers to provide digital fingerprints and compares that biometric data with the fingerprints on file. Global Entry travelers are also photographed and prompted to answer declaration questions on the kiosk’s touch screen. A transaction receipt is issued upon completion, which must be presented to CBP officers before leaving the inspection area.
Applications for enrollment are available through the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). An applicant must complete and submit an online application through GOES and pay a non-refundable $100 fee. CBP will review the applicant’s information and a background investigation will be conducted. To finalize the process, the applicant will be interviewed by a CBP officer at an enrollment center, and have his or her fingerprints captured. Upon approval, membership is valid for five years.
Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents, and Mexican nationals. The program is also available to citizens of the Netherlands who are enrolled in the Dutch Privium program, and citizens of the Republic of Korea enrolled in the Korean SES program. Canadian citizens and residents enrolled in the NEXUS program may also use the Global Entry kiosks. U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are members of the CBP Trusted Traveler program, SENTRI, can also use the Global Entry kiosks.
The Global Entry program began as a pilot program at George Bush Intercontinental, John F. Kennedy International, and Washington Dulles International airports on June 6, 2008. It became a permanent voluntary program on February 6, 2012. As of August 24, 2012, more than 400,000 Global Entry members average about 5,000 kiosk uses per day.
9. CBP Opens Two Additional Lanes at San Luis, Arizona Port of Entry
The U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the city of San Luis, Arizona, celebrated the construction of two additional northbound lanes for privately owned vehicles traveling into the United States at the San Luis I Land Port of Entry.
The 15-month expansion project increased the northbound lanes from 8 to 10 at one of the area’s most congested land ports of entry. These additional lanes may increase capacity by 25 percent for travelers entering the United States for work and personal reasons.
“This expansion will be a huge benefit for this port of entry, and for the San Luis-Sonora, Mexico border crossing community,” said William K. Brooks, CBP Acting Director of Field Operations.
CBP said that one of the driving factors for this expansion project was the desire to complete the construction before the start of this year’s agricultural season. The two additional lanes were officially opened on August 23, 2012, and are expected to help reduce the wait times for travelers during one of the busiest times of year.
10. Democratic Party Platform Supports Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The Democratic Party’s platform for 2012, which was formally approved at the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina, from September 4 through 6, supports comprehensive immigration reform that “brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and requires them to get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship.”
The platform states, among other things, that the Department of Homeland Security is “prioritizing the deportation of criminals who endanger our communities over the deportation of immigrants who do not pose a threat.” It touts existing Obama administration efforts, such as deferred action for childhood arrivals in lieu of the DREAM Act and supporting family reunification as a priority. The platform states that the word “family” in immigration includes LGBT relationships ” to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation.”
Full Text of the Democratic Party Platform for 2012
Summary of the Republican Party Platform’s Immigration Provisions in the September 1 ABIL Immigration Insider
11. New Publications and Items of Interest
Green Card Stories Events.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Houston, Texas: Book Signing and Panel Discussion at Brazos Bookstore
Join Green Card Stories collaborator Stephen Yale-Loehr and other guests for a discussion and book signing at Brazos Bookstore in Houston. More Information.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Washington, DC: Book Signing and Panel Discussion with KIND
Join Green Card Stories collaborator Stephen Yale-Loehr and other guests for a discussion focused on the contributions of young immigrants to the United States and a book signing with Kids in Need of Defense. More Information.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Detroit, Michigan: Book Signing and Panel Discussion
Join Green Card Stories collaborators Laura Danielson and Stephen Yale-Loehr, along with other guests at this panel discussion in Detroit. Fakhoury Law Group and Global Detroit will host this special reception featuring the new award-winning book, Green Card Stories, on Thursday, October 18, 2012, at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. The event, “Green Card Stories: The Human Face of the Immigration Debate,” will feature distinguished speakers and a panel discussion on the state of U.S. immigration policy. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will offer guests a unique opportunity to gain insights on today’s immigration issues.
All proceeds of the sale of the book at the event will go to Global Detroit, an effort to revitalize southeast Michigan’s economy by pursuing strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world and make the region more attractive and welcoming to immigrants, internationals, and foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth.
More Information. To RSVP, contact Natalia Hanna at Natalia@employmentimmigration.com or 248-643-4900.
USCIS national engagement. On October 16, 2012, USCIS will hold a public engagement (in-person in Washington, DC, and via teleconference) for EB-5 immigrant investor stakeholders. See HERE.
Notes from Previous Engagements by Topic
Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the new publication, Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, recently released by LexisNexis. The Practice Guide is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.
This comprehensive guide is designed to be used by:
- Human resources professionals and in-house attorneys who need to instruct, understand, and liaise with immigration lawyers licensed in other countries;
- Business immigration attorneys who regularly work with multinational corporations and their employees and HR professionals; and
- Attorneys interested in expanding their practice to include global business immigration services.
- An overview of the immigration law requirements and procedures for over 20 countries;
- Practical information and tips for obtaining visas, work permits, resident status, naturalization, and other nonimmigrant and immigrant pathways to conducting business, investing, and working in those countries;
- A general overview of the appropriate options for a particular employee; and
- Information on how an employee can obtain and maintain authorization to work in a target country.
Each chapter follows a similar format, making it easy to compare practices and procedures from country to country. Useful links to additional resources and forms are included. Collected in this Practice Guide, the expertise of ABIL’s attorney members across the globe will serve as an ideal starting point in your research into global business immigration issue.
ORDER HERE. International customers who do not want to order through the bookstore can order through Nicole Hahn at (518) 487-3004 or Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Card Stories. The immigration debate is boiling over. Americans are losing the ability to understand and talk to one another about immigration. We must find a way to connect on a human level. Green Card Stories does just that. The book depicts 50 recent immigrants with permanent residence or citizenship in dramatic narratives, accompanied by artistic photos. If the book’s profilees share a common trait, it’s a mixture of talent and steely determination. Each of them overcame great challenges to come and stay in America. Green Card Stories reminds Americans of who we are: a nation of immigrants, from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, who have fueled America’s success. It tells the true story of our nation: E pluribus unum–out of many, one.
Green Card Stories has won five national awards. It was named a Nautilus book award silver medal winner, and won a silver medal in the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award in the multicultural category. The book also won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher’s “IPPY” Awards and an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Ariana Lindquist, the photographer, won a first-place award in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism 2012. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio’s photo blog.
For more information or to order, visit Green Card Stories.
ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available HERE.
12. Member News
Katie Malyon has been selected as a State Finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards in the category of Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award. Announcements of award-winners will be made at the 2012 Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s Awards celebration on Tuesday, 25 September 2012.
Cyrus Mehta has published several new blog entries. “After the October 2012 Visa Bulletin, A Decade Long Wait Under the Family Fourth Preference is a Piece of Cake“. “Opposition to Corruption as a Political Opinion Supporting a Grant of Asylum: Ruqiang Yu v. Holder and Its Predecessors” “They Still Have Their Dream: Lawsuit Against Dreamers Will Go Nowhere”
Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. “The Democrats’ Immigration Position: Better But Blemished” “The GOP Position: Immigration Under Glass”
Stephen Yale-Loehr has co-authored a practice advisory about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The article summarizes the eligibility requirements, highlights areas of uncertainty, and offers practice tips for attorneys. More Details.
13. Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:USCIS Service Center processing times online
Department of Labor processing times and information on backlogs
Department of State Visa Bulletin
Visa application wait times for any post